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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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On frontiers, I would most warmly endorse what was said by the Prime
Minister, who spoke words of wisdom. What matters is not frontiers;
what matters to us is a question of principle. It is the independence of
Poland. That is what we guaranteed. By independence, I mean a country
being strong, conducting its own affairs, choosing its own form of Govern-
ment^ able to look to the future with security, and based on really strong
foundations, which Poland has never yet been in all its history. There is
no question whatever that it is our duty to make perfectly plain to the
Russian Government where we stand on this principle—the independence
of Poland and the independence of all small countries who have been, and
wish to be again, nationally independent. I cannot believe that in this matter
we are really fundamentally divided from Marshal Stalin . . .
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden) : . . . Let
me say one word about Poland, and it will only be one word, because the
House will understand that the Prime Minister's words which he used
yesterday were very carefully chosen, that we are still in negotiation, the
outcome of which all of us have very much at heart, and I may only too
easily say something which might make our task harder than it is. The
right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said : " Marshal Stalin and I
also spoke and agreed on the need for Poland to obtain compensation at the
expense of Germany both in the North and in the West." The hon.
Member for North Lambeth said that he did not take exception to that
because of the action which he conjured up of a possible large transference
of German territory to Poland and so on. I am not going into that at this
time, and quite obviously, whatever is done or is agreed, if agreement is
reached and when it is reached, it will come before the House, but I do want
to put this consideration before the House. The hon. Gentleman was
speaking as though the position in that part of Europe could bear some
parallel to the position at the outbreak of the war. It bears hardly any.
An enormous and horrible transformation has taken place, for instance,
over the whole of what was formerly Western Poland. Germany has
removed populations wholesale from vast tracts of territory, millions of
people, and in many cases they are now dead. The position is, as the Prime
Minister said yesterday, and I ought to add, said with the knowledge and
approval of his colleagues, that he and Stalin spoke and agreed upon the
need for Poland to obtain compensation at the expense of Germany in the
North and West. That represents the position of His Majesty's Govern-
ment . . .
The most characteristic feature in the Debate of the 22-23 February
in the House of Commons was that the majority of the speakers were
applying their western outlook to Russia and^ therefore, the picture was
reflected in a concave mirror. "Russia is brilliantly well-informed,"
wrote Kenneth de Courcy in the Review of World Affairs, " about every-
thing in Britain. Her sources of information are unsurpassed, and have
lately improved still further. Britain knows almost nothing of what is
happening in Russia."* A fact indeed revealed so ' brilliantly' by this
* Review of World Affairs, March 28th, 1944, p. 7.
Kenneth de Coxurcy was referring to the ruling classes of both countries, for the
general public of Britain knew very little , and Russia nothing at all, of each other.
Some of those * unsurpassed sources ' had already been locked in British prisons.